Snapshots from the UK: Ribena, and the Guinness and Black


Those of you who listen to the radio will recognize the line: "Ribena, I know what you're drinking" from the "American Boy" duet between Kanye West and Estelle. Kanye, the American boy, seduces Estelle, the English girl, by buying her a Ribena. As a girl who has been separated from the sweet, condensed black currant "squash" by the Atlantic Ocean, that pick-up line just might work on me.

Kanye may know what Ribena is, but I would venture that most Americans don't. It's a condensed black currant (the Concord grape of England) juice meant to be diluted with water that is shoved under kid's noses when they are young so that they will grow into sweet, black-currant adoring adults. There are Ribena juice boxes and Ribena flavors. Ribena is everywhere in England, justified by the fact that it is made from British black currants. I was initiated into the Ribena club late in life, but I am no less adoring, I assure you.

I doubt that Kanye really would have bought Estelle a simple Ribena, though. Chances are it was one of the many Ribena-based English cocktails, the most British of which—and my personal favorite—is the Guinness and Black, short for Guinness and black currant. It is a frothy and bittersweet mess of stout and fruity Ribena that leaves the head on the notoriously manly Guinness a pale and sardonic pink. Guinness and Black is a more niche and palatable alternative to the Black Velvet (Guinness and Champagne), and Ribena is that spoonful of sugar that helps the medicine go down—in the most delightful way.

What do you think of Ribena? Do you have a favorite Ribena cocktail?

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